Kaminski is ‘Rotarian of the Year’
Honoring Nathan Kaminski as Rotarian of the Year, outgoing president Paul Yarborough recently installed the Rotary Club of Georgetown Lunch’s new president, George Chastain, who takes office July 1 and will serve through June 30, 2014 — the local service organization’s 75th year.
Kaminski will be second in charge as president-elect under Chastain’s team. Chastain is executive director of Hobcaw Barony of the Belle W. Baruch Foundation. Ceremonies included having Assistant District 7770 Governor J. B. Jolly on board to install Chastain and the other officers and directors at a Tuesday, June 25 luncheon at Lands End Restaurant.
Other new officers include secretary John Stalvey, treasurer Robbie O’Donnell , assistant treasurer Matt Wesolowski, club administration director Keith Wilcox, sergeant at arms Ray Gagnon, service projects director Anna Ferrer, Rotary Foundation director Alan Walters, public relations director Ken Waddell, membership director Bill Crowther, fundraising Brenda England and fellowship chair Laurie Manning.
Kaminski seemed to be surprised with the appearance of his wife, Marcia Kaminski, who was tipped off about her husband receiving the honor and being recognized for bringing outstanding programs every week. Yarborough said Kaminski was an example of Rotary Service Above Self.
“You never quibbled or fussed in upholding and furthering the Rotary way of life,” Yarborough said. “You are genuinely a good person. I have so much admiration and respect for how you exceeded normal expectations during the last 12 months.”
Both Kaminski’s father and uncle served as president of this Rotary Club and were active in the community, serving on various boards and commissions. The Rotarian of the Year was asked to share some of his family history.
He said his great-grandfather Heiman Kaminski came from Prussia in 1855 at the age of 15, because his family thought that America offered much better opportunities.
“He worked in a mercantile establishment in Conway until the beginning of the Civil War and enlisted at the age of 21 as a private in the Confederate unit from Georgetown Company B, tenth regiment,” Kaminski said. “He survived the war and came back to Georgetown, believing that business could flourish in this region.”
“He became quite successful ‘by honest dealing, industry, and enterprise.’ Heiman had four sons, one of which was my grandfather, Nathan Kaminski. Nathan was sent to New York in the late 1800s as a young man to manage the commodities that were being shipped out of Georgetown. He was a successful commodities broker in New York.”
“My uncle, Richard Kaminski, and my father, also Nathan Kaminski, were born in New Rochelle, NY, and grew up there, but frequently visited the family here in Georgetown. After the Great Depression, both my uncle and father moved to Georgetown.”
“My father met and married my mother who was a teacher here in Georgetown. Right before Pearl Harbor, my father enlisted in the Navy and served in the North Atlantic. After World War II ended, he became the manager of the Kaminski Hardware business established by Heiman. The Rice Museum is now located where Kaminski Hardware once operated on Front Street.”
“In 1948, when I was two years old, my parents bought a home built in 1770 located in the historic district of Georgetown. They loved Georgetown, and everything about its history. I was an only child and enjoyed growing up in Georgetown.”
“I graduated from Winyah High School in 1964. I went to the University of the South (Sewanee) in Tennessee. When I graduated from Sewanee in 1968, I married Marcia who also grew up in Georgetown. She was a registered nurse. Vietnam was underway and I entered the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I.”
“After receiving my ensign commission, I was sent as communications officer to serve on the USS Kitty Hawk in the Pacific,” Kaminski said. “In 1970, I was released from active duty and entered law school at the University of South Carolina. I received my law degree in 1973 and have had a law license for 39 years.”
Kaminski said he was in a private practice in Georgetown for about six years during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but spent a large part of his career in the Attorney General’s office in Columbia.
“I actually served under four different Attorneys General during my time there. I ‘retired’ from paid employment in 2009 after serving six years as Chief of Staff for the Comptroller General’s Office in Columbia.”
Kaminski said his wife and he moved back to Georgetown in 2009. “We are living in the 1770 house that my parents so lovingly restored,” Kaminski said. “We have two children — a daughter and son — and five grandchildren, all of whom live far away in Atlanta.”
“Following in my father and uncle’s footsteps, both my wife and I have been active in various civic projects as part of ‘retirement.’ I have enjoyed my involvement in the Georgetown Rotary Club. The ‘Rotarian of the Year’ award was both a great surprise and a great honor.”
Incoming president Chastain mentioned the slogan, “Engage Rotary, Change Lives,” as being the new theme for the 2013-2014 president of Rotary International Ron D. Burton. A banner bearing this slogan hangs on the club’s podium.
Rotary is a 1.2 million-member organization with 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. It initiates volunteer humanitarian projects that address today’s world challenges, such as hunger, poverty and illiteracy.
Rotary’s flagship program is its effort to protect children against polio, aiming to eradicate the disease from the world.
The local club meets Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at Lands End Restaurant, 444 Marina Dr. in Georgetown.
By Lloyd Mackall
For The Times
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